The revolutionary advantages offered by defense use of 5G technology could be undone if the United States doesn’t begin now to meet and overcome a set of challenges, said an expert from the National Security Agency (NSA). These challenges range from developing effective security measures to ensuring the supply chain is not contaminated by parts made by foreign adversaries.
Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radios and artificial intelligence applications all potentially offer the military advanced capabilities for the tactical environment, say Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL’s) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, program manager, Resilient Tactical Communications Networks.
The nature of military permanent change of station assignments can create gaps in the U.S. Defense Department’s protected posture to cyber assets. The current approach allows valuable institutional knowledge literally to walk out the door, often being replaced with inadequately prepared personnel walking in. This practice runs contrary to the Pentagon’s stated strategic goals that aim at building and maintaining a skilled workforce rather than solely acquiring new tools.
NATO is at risk of losing its technology edge because of emerging and disruptive technologies increasingly developed within the civil sector. The growth of peer competitors’ determination, especially China, and the decline of technology education in Western countries are eroding the advantage they once skillfully held.
To address this state of affairs, the organization’s defense ministers are examining a number of activities. As a part of this initiative, the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) conducted a study to provide the industry view of the implications of emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) and Chinese advances in defense operations and military capability development.
The entire nation must engage in an informed debate about cybersecurity and how to stop the damage being inflicted by adversaries through cyberspace, says the director of intelligence for the U.S. Cyber Command. Brig. Gen. Matteo Martemucci, USAF, J-2 for the U.S. Cyber Command, says this debate must explore whether the roles played in cyber defense stay the way they are or change.
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Missouri, was awarded a $10,579,798 modification (P00004) to contract W58RGZ19F0045 to integrate, test, upgrade and field functional hardware and software technology improvements and cybersecurity controls, to the Longbow Crew Trainer Generation Four and Generation Five fleets. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, with an estimated completion date of April 2, 2022. Fiscal year 2019 aircraft procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $10,579,798 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.
Companies preparing for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) should beware of firms that are promising to get them certified, said a government official. Stacy Bostjanick, director of CMMC, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (A&S), stated that any firms claiming to be able to do that are not capable of that function yet.
Cyber Systems and Services Solutions, Bellevue, Nebraska, has been awarded a $17,765,741 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P0010) to contract FA8773-18-D-0002 to exercise Option Three for defensive cyber realization, integration and operational support services. Work will be performed at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)-Lackland, Texas, and is expected to be completed February 28, 2022. This modification is the result of a competitive acquisition and seven offers were received. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance funds in the amount of $8,764,731 are being obligated at the time of award. The 38th Contracting Squadron, JBSA-Lackland, Texas, is the contracting activity.
The greatest threat the United States faces is through cyber attacks on economic targets, and the worst adversary in this realm is China, according to the director of intelligence for the U.S. Cyber Command. Brig. Gen. Matteo Martemucci, USAF, J-2 for the Cyber Command, declared that China’s pilferage of intellectual property represents a major strike against the United States as part of the Middle Kingdom’s plan for global domination.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean, Virginia, has been awarded a $21,744,548 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00032) to contract FA8750-17-F-0105 for enterprise exploitation and information assurance. This contract modification provides for additional hours to facilitate development of electro-optical emerging data sources as part of the Assured Cyber Enterprise for the Intelligence Community Program. Work will be performed in McLean, Virginia, and is expected to be completed September 28, 2021. Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $74,381 are being obligated at the time of award.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a unique role as a federal law enforcement agency as well as a national security department. Its vast information technology enterprise must support its functionality in carrying out these roles, which have different rules of engagement. And when adding new tools, processes or software, the bureau has to consider solutions carefully. With zero trust architecture—a method that combines user authentication, authorization and monitoring; visibility and analytics; automation and orchestration; end user device activity; applications and workload; network and other infrastructure measures; and data tenants to provide more advanced cybersecurity—gaining use in the U.S.
The cybersecurity of civil government, critical infrastructure and business infrastructure remains uneven. Worrying reports of ransomware affecting city and county governments as well as local health care organizations have put leaders and administrators, and infrastructure operators on edge.
The future enterprise will be edge-centric, cloud enabled and data driven, said Bill Burnham, CTO, U.S. Public Sector Business Unit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
He shared his ideas during an AFCEA online event titled “The Edge Is Where the Action Is!”
The Defense Digital Service (DDS) and HackerOne announced the launch of the DDS’s latest bug bounty program with HackerOne. It is the eleventh such program for DDS and HackerOne and the third with the U.S. Department of the Army.
Hack the Army 3.0 is a security test— time-bound and hacker-powered—aimed at revealing vulnerabilities so they can be resolved before they are exploited by adversaries. The bug bounty program will run from January 6, 2021, through February 17, 2021, and is open to both military and civilian participants.
It is no secret that the U.S. government is grappling with cybersecurity issues across its organizations and agencies. The good news is that the government has an auditing agency that investigates possible weaknesses or cybersecurity gaps and makes key recommendations to rectify problems: the U.S. Government Accountability Office, known as GAO.
Emerging technology, state actors such as Russia and China, and nonstate actors including ISIS, are often quoted as some of the greatest threats to computer and network security. But before the United States can engage with these threats effectively, the war against words must take place.
One place to start is by eliminating the word “cyber” as a descriptor. The term has been used and overused, manipulated and exploited so many times and in so many places, it has become meaningless. What individuals or organizations mean or want when they use it is impossible to say. It’s time to scrap the word altogether and instead specify technical concepts at a more granular level.
Experts have issued fresh warnings to U.S. citizens over the enormous amount of sensitive, personal information being routinely captured and commoditized, and that this same information is being weaponized by the country’s adversaries. A panel at the recent AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference highlighted that data gathering by Facebook, WhatsApp and Google presents a significant risk to both individuals and the nation.
Innovative ideas may hold the key to thwarting cyber adversaries emboldened by opportunities offered in the COVID-19 pandemic. And, the source of these innovative approaches may be diverse personnel who break the mold of conventional cybersecurity professionals.
The Defense Department’s new cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) coincidentally took effect on the first day of TechNet Cyber, AFCEA’s virtual event being held December 1-3. Leading officials with the Defense Department, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and industry discussed what its implementation will mean to the defense industrial base (DIB) and the community as a whole.
Adversaries are stepping up their efforts to exfiltrate information and weaken the U.S. supply chain through cyberspace. These efforts aim to both wreck the country from within and strengthen the hand of the adversary wielding the digital sword, according to a U.S. government official.
New government security measures are designed with these challenges in mind, and they can help secure targeted small businesses. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is rolling out, is designed to help mitigate the effects of adversarial activities in cyberspace.
U.S. data protection and its relationship to national interests are swiftly evolving. One reason this trend will continue, cybersecurity specialists say, is that other nations see cyberspace differently than the United States and other democracies. Rather than incorporating technology into their societies as a tool, they use cybersecurity—both offensively and defensively—to support their different views and overall significantly challenge U.S. interests.
Anyone moving through the ecosystem of software development and cyber over the last few decades has heard cool words to describe it: Waterfall, Cobalt, Agile, DevOps and now DevSecOps.
DevSecOps may be the latest term but the idea behind it remains constant: Security should be a priority from the start.
Automation software tools are being under-utilized, especially in the U.S. Defense Department. While the department has purchased and used automated scanning tools for security and compliance, it has been slow to adopt automation for many other tasks that would benefit from the capability, such as easing software deployment and standardization and, once developed, increasing the speed of overall automation.
While the world was facing the rapid and deadly spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, most commonly known as COVID-19, malicious cyber attackers were also at work, increasing the number of attacks, switching methods, taking advantage of the boom in Internet, network and email users, and playing on fears during the uncertain time, cybersecurity experts say. Companies struggling to maintain operations are still leaving gaps in digital security, they warn.
Many agencies today lack a way to effectively and securely govern access across multicloud environments. Though the use of multiple cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure and Google give agencies the freedom to match the requirements of each use case to the unique strengths of each cloud platform, it also leaves businesses vulnerable to the risks and costs of noncompliance, cyber attacks and human error.
Lack of governance can also stifle productivity and growth—if users can’t get the access they need when they need it, work doesn’t get done. Managing who has access to what and with which privileges is a major challenge in the cloud due to rapid change and its large scale.
Users need to transition all networked computing from the commercial central processing unit addiction to pure dataflow for architecturally safe voting machines, online banking, websites, electric power grids, tactical radios and nuclear bombs. Systems engineering pure dataflow into communications and electronic systems can protect them. The solutions to this challenge are in the users’ hands but are slipping through their fingers. Instead, they should grab the opportunity to zeroize network attack surfaces.
The two-factor authentication schema is often heralded as the silver bullet to safeguard online accounts and the way forward to relegate authentication attacks to the history books. However, news reports of a phishing attack targeting authentication data, defeating the benefits of the protection method, have weakened confidence in the approach. Furthermore, hackers have targeted account recovery systems to reset account settings, yet again mitigating its effectiveness. Facilitating additional layers of security is crucial to bolstering user account protection and privacy today and into the future.
Cybersecurity is now a significant area of focus and concern for senior leaders who have witnessed cyber events that have resulted in significant financial and reputational damage. However, for many organizations, data defense continues to be a technology-focused effort managed by the technical “wizards.” Board of director discussions often zero in on describing the latest cyber threats rather than taking a long-range approach.
But cybersecurity is more than a technical challenge. Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an effective tool to assess risks, including those with cyber origins, but few businesses or agencies use the technique for this purpose, cyber experts assert.
COVID-19 has done more than increase hand-washing and mask-wearing. It has meant an entirely new way of communicating and collaborating. Those on the front lines say some of these changes are here to stay and will last much longer than the pandemic simply because they are more efficient ways to do business.
On both sides of the Atlantic, NATO and European leaders are struggling to address the threat posed to vital space systems by foreign hackers, cyber warfare and online espionage. Huge swathes of the global economy are utterly dependent on orbital capabilities like GPS that look increasingly fragile as space becomes more crowded and contested.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings with it a new set of cyber vulnerabilities built around lifestyle changes throughout society, and these vulnerabilities cry out for new means of cyber resiliency. “It’s quite possible that historians will remember COVID-19 as one of the very important civilizational turning points,” says Alexander Kott, chief scientist of the Army Research Laboratory and Army ST for cyber resilience. “COVID-19 is acting as a forcing function. It forces us to accelerate the transition to a more virtual society than we were before, and it is accelerating the trend that was occurring before COVID-19 but was happening more slowly and less noticeably.”
Enterprise modernization of the Navy's networks and systems is finally underway. Set to impact hundreds of thousands of uniformed and civilian users, it will consolidate many outsourced network service delivery mechanisms across the entire Department of the Navy (DON). The initiative aims to transform how services are delivered, provide a dramatically improved end user experience, and enable critical innovations long needed to accelerate the DON’s mission.
Two Sandia National Laboratories computer scientists are earning national recognition for cybersecurity platforms they developed. Adrian Chavez and Vince Urias will pitch their software to investors, entrepreneurs and prospective customers during the Cybersecurity Technology Virtual Showcase, which runs July 21-30 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Combined, Chavez and Urias led the creation of four of the technologies to be showcased.
The U.S. Defense Department by the end of the calendar year will release an initial zero trust architecture to improve cybersecurity across the department, says Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, and commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network.
Norton’s agency, commonly known as DISA, is working with the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense (DOD) chief information officer and others on what she calls an initial “reference” architecture for zero trust, which essentially ensures every person wanting to use the DOD Information Network, or DODIN, is identified and every device trying to connect is authenticated.
The U.S. Army’s near future will include an increased focus on adopting “zero trust” cybersecurity practices, better protecting its network endpoints and consolidating its plethora of cloud computing contracts, according to Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, the Army’s outgoing CIO/G-6. It also will likely include tightening defense budgets.
The general indicated during a keynote address for the Army’s virtual 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA, that the 2021 fiscal year “is going to be all about driving on priorities.”
The U.S. Air Force is experimenting with a zero trust strategy to provide additional digital protections. Zero trust architecture offers a higher level of cybersecurity, through limited per-session access, continuous monitoring, endpoint security and monitoring of network conversations, explained Col. James Lotspeich, USAF, chief technology officer, Air Combat Command (ACC), Directorate of Cyberspace and Information Dominance (A6).
Col. Lotspeich spoke about the ACC’s zero trust architecture efforts during AFCEA Tidewater’s July 2 virtual luncheon.
At 61 years old, the common business-oriented language is the same age as many college kids’ parents. The coding language had its own exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2013. Many in the industry now call it a “legacy language,” but its continued, widespread use tells a different story.
In the past two years, hackers have increasingly targeted Internet of Things devices to breach cybersecurity defenses. Because these devices are frequently not patched when software flaws are found, they represent a soft target for attackers. In 2017, 15 percent of all successful attacks exploited one of these device’s beachheads. By 2019, that number increased to 26 percent of all incidents with growth expected to continue, according to a recent analysis performed by Ponemon Institute.
With the 2020 election fast approaching and tensions with Iran continually shifting, many people are looking to U.S. Cyber Command to help ensure cybersecurity. The command faces an uphill battle because the current construct allows each service branch to retain tactical command of its organic cyber experts. To be more successful in the cyberspace domain, the command needs to take over tasking authority for all cyber-related units, establish a standardized joint cyber schoolhouse and establish a Joint Cyber Operations Command to perform joint, effects-driven cyber operations.
ASIRTek Federal Services LLC, San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a $78,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for information security support services. This contract provides for proactive support of the foundational pillars of this requirement, which are cybersecurity improvement initiatives and cybersecurity support. Work will be performed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Additional on-site support locations may include Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Randolph AFB, Texas; and Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Work is expected to be completed June 28, 2025. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with 24 offers received.
ICF Inc. LLC, Fairfax, Virginia, was awarded a $13,444,607 modification (P00036) to contract W911QX-17-C-0018 to extend mission critical defense cyber operation services provided by ICF. Work will be performed in Adelphi, Columbia, Fort Meade, and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, with an estimated completion date of December 15, 2020. Fiscal year 2020 research, development, test and evaluation, Army funds in the amount of $13,444,607 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
The efficiencies of using and embedding open source software (OSS) carry many risks. In the advent of free repositories and millions of open source projects, the notion of any reasonable centralized authentication about the origin or any assurance as to correctness is virtually impossible. As a result, users should cultivate trust relationships with a few suppliers and keep them up to date.
Information technology modernization has reached a precipice within the federal government as agencies struggle to manage many moving parts and jockey for the same pot of money and talent. Add to the fray the results of a new survey showing an alarming reliance by federal agencies on outdated information technology systems.
The Space Force has announced that the planned satellite hacking challenge known as Space Security Challenge 2020: Hack-A-Sat would proceed as planned, but in a virtual format due to the pandemic. The Department of the Air Force and the Defense Digital Service's (DDS's) event includes an online qualification event May 22-24, followed by a final August 7-9. During the final, participants will attempt to reverse-engineer representative ground-based and on-orbit satellite system components to overcome planted “flags” or software code.
The coronavirus is not stopping the U.S. Defense Department from proceeding with work on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), and it shouldn’t slow down industry in doing the same. Although some of the public hearings that should have taken place by now have been delayed because of the pandemic, the CMMC team continues to train and get the word out about rules changes.
ForAllSecure, a NEA portfolio company, announced that is will provide the Defense Department with a next-generation fuzzing solution under a $45 million contract with the Defense Innovation Unit. The company's software security product, known as Mayhem, will be used by several DOD entitieservices branches, including: the Air Force 96th Cyberspace Test Group, the Air Force 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, the Naval Sea Systems Command and the U.S. Army Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, according to the company. The product, which automatically finds software vulnerabilities, is a patented next-generation solution developed at Carnegie Mellon University.
NATO is doubling down on cyberspace defense with increased partnerships and new technology thrusts. Information exchanges on threats and solutions, coupled with research into exotic capabilities such as artificial intelligence, are part of alliance efforts to secure its own networks and aid allies in the cybersecurity fight.
The threats the alliance networks face constitute relatively the same ones confronting other organizations. NATO faces the double challenge of securing its own networks and information assets, as well as helping its member nations improve their own national cyber resilience.
Amid growing fears that U.S. military reliance on civilian space infrastructure might prove a weak point, two organizations are seeking to improve cybersecurity in the burgeoning satellite industry. The Orbital Security Alliance has published a detailed set of cybersecurity guidelines for commercial satellite operators, which aims specifically at smaller, newer companies in the fast-growing “minisat” sector.
The success of the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) will hinge largely on diverse types of contractors sharing information and following security standards, said a panel of experts exploring CMMC ramifications. Speaking at AFCEA’s Virtual CMMC Symposium, the government officials emphasized that the CMMC will be both an opportunity and an obligation to the defense community
Digital structures are needed to protect government information and operations. A group participating in a National Institute of Standards of Technology challenge is offering a secure cloud-based platform that can improve the digital and actual health of a city and protect its information.